I’m sitting here watching my favorite part of any sporting event: the hype. Serena Williams, one of professional tennis’ most dominant figures in recent times, is getting ready to play at Wimbledon again, and when the commentators and experts start weighing in and breaking down the match, my heart skips a beat. Great competitors are learners and I know that, as an entrepreneur, my ability to absorb the lessons of champions is going to move my business forward.
During the Wimbledon chatter discussing Serena Williams’ match with Maria Sharapova, an opponent Williams has dominated in previous matches, it was mentioned that Williams did what some entrepreneurs fail to do: change their mindset.
Williams has hired a new coach, and with that has come the new techniques she employs to play matches. The decision has made a formidable champion even better and I’m all for becoming a better entrepreneur.
Here are some mindset shifts entrepreneurs may want to consider if they are to improve their game.
1. Find dynamic mentors. Obtaining a coach or mentor is imperative for entrepreneurs. Yet, even with a proven mentor, you always need different perspectives from different industries in your ear. Remember, you really are the result of the five people closest to you. It may feel bad to say that your current crew who got you to this point can’t push you further, but upgrading the minds around you is necessary. You need experts who will push and encourage you to be your best, having seen the proven results of their expertise.
2. Be open to change. Your competition changes so your game plan has to as well. Periscope just hit the market and everyone is going for the marketing gold there. I’m not saying it is for everyone, but I am saying that, as entrepreneurs, we need to check out the shiny new toys our customers are loving. Even if it isn’t the best for our business, we may see an opportunity in our current marketing and tweak what we are doing to compete. For example, if you are a YouTube person now, I see a great similarity in how Periscope is taking over in the same way reality TV took over television. Reality TV is here to stay, but scripted television is also coming back (see shows like Power and Empire). For those YouTubers who can stay the course, I think they’ll retain customers and even find some new ones in the wake of most non-video content creators joining the Periscope phenomenon. They will, however, have to be open to a few changes to stay competitive.
3. Motivate yourself. No matter who Williams’ coaches have been throughout her career, her work on the court is self-motivated. Mentors and coaches help get the self-motivation conversations started, but when you are at pitch competitions or wining and dining that new client, you are there on your own. You need to learn to tap into your motivation reserves when you fumble, forget a fact, or just plain don’t get the deal. But you have to keep knocking on doors.
4. Cheer for yourself. Have you ever seen Serena when she knows she’s winning? I swear she’s her biggest fan and supporter. Are you your biggest fan and supporter? We all need outside “rah-rah” folks, but nobody knows how hard you are working better than you. You deserve to jump and shout even if the win seems small – especially if the win seems small.
5. Realize you are human. The commentators on Williams’ game were very complimentary to the now 21 title holder, but they had no problem telling us where her game can still improve. If you haven’t made all the money in your market, you still have plenty to learn. However, we all do. Remember that you are human and make sure you learn from your mistakes. You also want to start delegating your weaknesses to someone who is stronger at that task. Winners adjust.
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